Please be aware that the following several paragraphs contain graphic descriptions and images.
The Pol Pot regime set up several prisons, the most famous (and deadly) one being S-21 in
The nearby Choeng Ek “Killing Fields” were used to dispose of the bodies of people killed at S-21. Many others were transported by truck to the fields where their hands were tied behind their back; they kneeled at the edge of a mass grave and then were executed by axe, hoe head, bamboo rod, neck slit by sharp palm leaves, or hung from a tree. The moans of the dying people who were hung from the “Magic Tree” were broadcast across the fields to discourage others from making noise during their imminent death. Babies were killed by beating their heads against a tree. Some were not killed by the above methods, but simply thrown into the mass grave and covered in a chemical called DDT that would help them die soon after being buried alive.
Today, S-21 houses the
The Killing Fields house a tall building with the skulls of 8500 victims. The place today is strangely peaceful. 86 of the 126 mass graves at the site have been opened. It is estimated that 20,000 people are buried at the Choeng Ek fields. There are killing fields and mass grave sites throughout
Walking around the Killing Fields thigh bones, teeth and shards of clothing are all visible in the dirt. The whole site is smaller than I would have imagined. But, the graves were often 6 meters (18 feet) deep, so the footprint didn’t need to be large.
Somewhere between 1.7 and 3 million people died, out of a population of 8 million. Conservatively, 1/4th of the population was systematically killed between 1975-1979.
Headshots of victims of Tuol Sleng.
Some of the "results" of excavating the killing fields.
Torture and death at Tuol Sleng.
Tower containing 8500 skulls.
The fields are littered with bone remains.
Today marks the 30th anniversary of the overthrow of the Khmer Rouge government (January 7, 1979). Unfortunately, the suffering is far from over.